Positive FIV cat (Feline immunodeficiency virus) – What next?

These past few weeks Lily, my rescue cat has been noticeably off colour, she’s been very quiet and off her food.  I first noticed about 3 weeks ago, and decided she ought to go see the vets that day.  The vet examined Lily and found that she had lost a bit of weight since her last visit at the end of 2012 and had a high temperature, possibly associated with an infection, so a few jabs and prescription meds later we were sent on our way.  After a day or so, Lily picked up and I was happy that she was back on her food and more like her old self, I also took her back to the vet a week later for a quick weigh in and she had put on weight also…happy days.

Since stopping the course of antibiotics however, she started to drop back down, off her food again and very sleepy.  I took her back to the vets on Wednesday and her temperature was back up and she had lost weight once more.  The vet wanted to run some screening blood tests to try to get a better idea of what’s going on in Lily and for this she had to take to the partnering vet in Oundle, 10 mins away and would keep her overnight.

I got the call at around 6:30 that evening and the vet said she had screened Lily for Cat flu, FIV and Leukaemia…she came back positive for FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus)…Obviously I was incomplete shock and starting panicking crying that this could be the end of Lily… BUT, after speaking to Paul (the level-headed one) and after doing a fair bit of research online, I found a few sites that had similar stories to mine (especially as I have my other cats to consider..could she pass this on to them?)

The feeling was, many cats have FIV, we don’t routinely screen for this or indeed vaccinate here in the UK.  FIV cats can live relatively normal lives as much as a ‘healthy’ cat, and can live happily alongside non-FIV cats also.

FIV is similar to human HIV in that it reduces her immune system, making her more prone to infection, which we can treat as and when they arrive.  So where cats are unlikely to die from FIV, they’re more likely to die from an infection caught due to their low immune system.

There will be a few changes that we will have to make, we will be keeping her indoors from now on to reduce the chances of her catching an infection and also to stop the risk of her spreading the illness.  The only way she can spread this is by direct contact into the blood stream (if she was to bite and pierce the skin of another cat for example) and by mating, it does not spread by saliva….Lily is definitely not a fighter and there’s little chance of her mating.

The outcome is for now we’re going to go with the flow, we certainly won’t be giving up on her and we will provide any treatment that she may need. I know deep down that she could potentially get very sick one day and we will probably have to make that awful decision that no pet owner wants to make, but until that time I’m just going to love and care for Lily as I normally would…maybe just a little more now! 😉

We got our pets as a commitment, they are our family, they are our children.



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